The novel as a taxi ride; pot holes, traffic jams, minority group parades plus the brakes are fucked and the blind folded driver is smoking a spliff. The trick is to sit back, ignore the meter and anticipate the destination. Go easy on yourself: Linearity – getting from A to B – was never much on Joyce`s mind and it should not be on yours either. More than any other book, this a book not to stand on ceremony with.
But it is a book to be careful around. An eyes in the gutter, life as a bad dream , Leonard Cohen sound track, mutant of a novel. Sadly it is still as off putting as you found it first time round.
The basic problem with Ulysees, is of course, that there is too much in it: the odyssey-mimicking structure, the linking of the eighteen episodes with a different academic discipline and a different bodily organ, the symbols and the allusions, the puns and the parodies, the cast of dozens (all Irish and voluble), the determination to do it all, both expressionately and documentarily, and in eighteen hours and forty five minutes no less.
Then there is the panties loving (more about that in later posts) Joyce himself, who while he may be, as Eliot pronounced, “the greatest master of English since Milton” is also a show off of the worst kind, the fifth former-from-Blackrock-whose-father-writes-for-television sort.
But do not be afraid to browse. Find an episode you like. Then graze; let Joyce`s precise, unflagging, comic, and consolational portrayal of life take hold.